Sugary drinks increase cancer recurrence and death


June 21, 2014 (My 37th birthday)

We’ve heard for years that “sugar feeds cancer”, but the cancer treatment industry doesn’t seem to think so. In fact, oncologists commonly encourage patients to go home and eat whatever they want. Cancer centers have coke and snack machines in their lobbies, and some even serve soft drinks, donuts, ice cream and candy bars to patients while they are getting chemo.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a study that investigated whether or not the food patients eat had any impact on their survival?

There is.

This week, a new study out of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that frequent sugar-sweetened beverage consumption increased cancer recurrence and death.

“Sugar-sweetened beverages” were defined by the study authors as a 12-ounce serving of sugar-sweetened caffeinated colas, caffeine-free colas, other carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages, and noncarbonated sugar-sweetened beverages like fruit punches, lemonades, or other fruit drinks.
I confirmed with one of the study’s authors that this did not include fruit juices.

The average Americans drinks 45 gallons of sugar-sweetened beverages per year.
That’s the equivalent of about 480 cans of coke.

The study followed 1,011 stage III colon cancer patients for an average of 7.3 years. The patients all had colon resection surgery to remove a tumor and cancerous lymph nodes (just like me). Patients were given a dietary questionnaire  during treatment, and another 6 months after treatment was finished.

Survey says…

Patients consuming two or more 12 oz servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a 67% increased risk of cancer recurrence or death, compared with those consuming less than 2 servings per month.

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was one of those people. I drank a super-sized soft drink every day with my fast food lunch, and often with dinner. Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite and Mountain Dew were my favorites.

The risk for cancer recurrence or death was highest for patients who were both overweight (BMI over 25) and less physically active (less than 18 MET-hours/week).

When compared to physcially active patients who were a healthy weight and rarely drank sugary beverages, the overweight sedentary group had over twice the increased risk of cancer recurrence or death, on average.

The unhealthiest of the bunch had nearly four times the risk (3.81). journal.pone.0099816.g003

Some additional notes on the study

34% of the patients had a cancer recurrence within the study period.

30% of the patients died during the study period. 262 patients died of cancer and 43 died of other causes, many likely to be treatment related. The 43 who did not die of cancer were not counted because researchers were only exploring the association between sugary drink consumption and cancer recurrence or death.

It makes sense to exclude the 43 non-cancer deaths from this study, but this is also often done to massage data and make treatments and cancer survival statistics appear to work better than they do.

Excluding patients who die from side effects of treatment (blood clots, infections, strokes, heart attacks, liver failure) is fairly standard practice in the cancer industry. If treatment kills you, they may not count you as a cancer death because technically, it wasn’t the cancer that killed you. Unbeknownst to the general public, the cancer industry exploits this technicality because it makes the treatment success rates look better.

Yesterday, as I began writing this post, a dear family member was in hospice breathing her final breaths. She was an incredible woman that could literally do anything. She chose conventional treatment (chemo and radiation) a few years ago after a spot was found on her lung. That treatment destroyed her body and mind.

She has been a invalid for over a year, unable to feed, bathe, or go to the restroom by herself. She couldn’t walk, and could barely communicate. She suffered a slow decline that was heartbreaking to witness, eyes open, but often unresponsive, only speaking a few words at a time. She passed away yesterday afternoon, but her last scan after treatment showed no cancer in her body, so cancer won’t be listed as the cause of death.

Another “successful treatment”.

I sincerely believe that if she had chosen a different path she would be with us today.

Life is short. Time is precious. Don’t waste it.

And stop drinking sugary drinks.

Chris Beat Cancer: A Comprehensive Plan for Healing Naturally, published by Hay House, is a National Bestseller as ranked by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly! Get it on Amazon here, or anywhere books are sold.

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This Post Has 62 Comments

  1. Kevin

    Hi Chris – was the study only

    1. Kevin

      Ooops – clicked too soon…
      Was the study only on sugar drinks or did it also include diet drinks & soda?

      1. Chris Wark

        Hi Kevin it didn’t specify diet drinks

  2. TeeDee

    Chris, so sorry to hear of your family member :(

    P.S. My oncologist is at Dana Farber, I will be letting him know that the next time he wants to check the colon cancer tumors in my liver that I would prefer an ultra sound instead of drinking those 2 jugs of straight glucose to make those tumors light up light up for the ct scan!!! Also I am so happy that I was never a soda drinker!

  3. Peter

    Thinking of you <3

  4. Ben Ngo

    Ugh. I loved the article. But after I read up to you losing a family member. I kinda got depressed. This article got me pumped and happy that I don’t drink soda and everything. But oh well, my condolences to you and your family.

    1. Sunnie Shine

      I think we would want to be careful to not make it seem like Chris should or could have taken on responsibility for someone else’s health. Of course, we cannot.

      My condolences to you and your family, Chris.

      1. Ben Ngo

        Sunnie Shine. Your right. In fact Chris even responded to me. I DON’T mean to make it sound like that I’m sorry. =[

    2. Chris Wark

      HI Ben. Easier said than done. She knew all about what I did, but was not interested in nutrition and natural therapies. I’ve had 5 family members diagnosed with cancer in the last 10 years. None of them have asked me for advice. I focus on helping people that want my help.

      1. Ben Ngo

        Ah okay thank you for the reply Chris. I understand. Yeah there are some people that are too afraid to take an alternative route. But again, my condolences and thank you for again for responding. Well hope you continue to help others thrive. Your doing a good job.

  5. Chi

    I agree 100%. They all try to convince you that you need more of those poisons, and it costs you money, that’s why they work as “Doctors”. They are trained to follow that awful doctrine, so, don’t fall into their trap. Cancer is a metabolic malfunction, so just watch what you eat and what to avoid and what to compliment with your body needs.

  6. Caroline

    Happy birthday Chris. Thank you for your time to share your journey. Condolences for your loss. You are in my thoughts x

  7. extremehealthradio

    Hey Chris. I know of a close friend of our family that used to drink multiple cans of coke everyday for years and years and she finally died of cancer. Not that that’s proof of anything but personally I think there’s a direct link as you said. :)

    1. Chris Wark

      It certainly wasn’t helping!

  8. Zyxomma

    Happy Birthday, and Happy Solstice, Chris! May your next trip around the sun bring you love, health, peace, abundance, and joy. My sympathy on your relative’s death.

    The studies are BS, aren’t they? If someone dies of “side effects” of radiation or chemo, of course it’s a cancer death. And they make no mention of the FACT that many of the liver and heart disease deaths are from sugar, too.

    I’ll be 60 a week from tomorrow, and I just keep getting more vibrantly healthy.


    So sorry for your loss- so heartbreaking when you know first hand there is a better way…. love and Happy Birthday- YOU ROCK 37!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. kari

    Happy birthday! We are the same age minus 3 days and I totally agree that sugary drinks = poison. I know how hard it is to support friends and family that don’t want or take our advice but you love them anyway. I’m sorry for your loss.
    P.S. I met you in SD conference and I’m a 5 year acute leukemia survivor (initially had all the conventional treatments including a bone marrow transplant and then used diet to heal and have been off all meds for 4 years now and no sign of cancer). However, I’m left with chemo/radiation problems like neuropathy, liver fibrosis, iron overload from transfusions, premature menopause, etc. that I constantly battle and the doctors are NO help. I have taken it learn as much as I can to empower myself with steps I can take to reduce these problems. I love your blog because it helps me in my journey. Thanks you!

    1. Marie Puckett

      Happy Birthday Chris! You are one of the bravest persons I have ever encountered. All love and blessings to you and your family!

    2. Daisy

      I pray that you will get well.
      I have breast cancer, but decided not to have radiation, because I am scared of the side effects. I have decided to follow the holistic approach.
      I read an article, where they did a trial in the middle east with Fresh Ginger root, and they found that it killed cancer cells.
      I now drink lots of fresh Ginger.
      I am reading this excellent book. Dr Vernon Coleman called mind power.
      How to use your mind to heal your body.
      God bless you.

  11. Lizzia Parr

    Happy birthday Mr. Wark.
    So sorry to hear about your family member.

  12. Sarah

    Chris, I’m very sorry to hear about your family member. I wish no one ever had to suffer like that, and I hope that one day, no one ever will have to. Thank you for keeping up this website so that you can share alternative information with people. It’s been a great help to me and my mom. Each success story you share gives us courage and hope.

    Maybe you do an article/interview with Anita Moorjani some time? She’s a lady who had a spontaneous remission of her lymphoma after a near-death experience. I know she believes in healthy eating as well, but she brings up a very good point about the destructive nature of fear as well. I know sometimes (without meaning to), the alternative treatment community can cause confusion/doubt/fear in people by saying, “You MUST do this,” or “You CAN’T EVER DO that.” There are some people who just can’t do all organics, coffee enemas 4x a day, etc….they may feel like they’re not truly capable of healing due to that, which I believe is not true at all. Some people are healed by God (meditation, prayer, etc.) without any changes to their diet whatsoever. I really hope you start to incorporate those types of stories as well. I hope more people become open to this idea about the power of our minds to aid in healing in addition to the external things like diet.

    1. Vanessa

      Greetings All. I had to respond after reading what Sarah said. I agree that the natural way is some what scary. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and i decided to do the chemo. I knew that the natural way was something I was not prepared for. But after successfully completing chemo(I believe God, positive attitude,aroma and hydro therapy really helped me), I now practice more natural therapies, and I don’t live in the constant fear of death. Everyone’s path is not totally the same. I am just happy that I have the opportunity to see another day, another moment another second. It is sad to hear of anyone dying of any dis-ease, but I know we all have to go down that path. I am just trying to make each day one in which I treat myself and others the best I can and do whatever it takes to make me happy,healthy and peaceful. Some days I do better than others. But for the most part I am thankful for all that is. I never want to do chemo and I refused the radiation, but I know when I don’t practice moderation and I just go off on a tangent, anything is liable to happen. We all have choices, and I try to chose the best of the bad. It seems like many things aren’t good for you these days, so I practice cleaning myself out if I mess up. thanks for letting me share my thoughts. and thank you Chris for having a place to come to identify with others. Peace and Blessings to All.

      1. Greg Beckham

        Hi Vanessa. Like yourself I think people have to make their own decision based on their own set of circumstances- what type of cancer, what stage, etc. Steve Jobs was a billionaire that was very healthy and ate healthy, decided to go the all-natural route and died of a cancer that is quite survivable with Western style medicine. I’ve seen others that were living a very, very healthy lifestyle and still got cancer- for them, eating better or exercising more wasn’t an option. Not all cancers can be cured with healthy diet & exercise unfortunately. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do!

  13. June

    My mother, who received standard chemo and radiation for her stage-4 lung cancer against my advice and who is now dead, was given “cereal bars” to snack on during her chemo treatments, one of many sugar-laden, processed, crappy “treats” she had to choose from. The chemo nurses happily pointed my dad in the direction of fast food restaurants nearby the cancer center where my dad could buy “lunch” to bring back to the center for him and my mom, which he did. Seems criminal and reckless if you ask me. It defies every ounce of common-sense nutrition. My mom literally withered away in a terrible, terrible death over 11-months time. She was a mere skeleton when she died. Malnourished, I believe, from her doctors telling her to eat whatever she wants. I know without a doubt in my soul that the chemo and radiation hastened her death. What an unthinkable way to die. It was clearly torturous for her to go through and torturous for me to helplessly watch.

    My condolences to you, Chris, for losing a loved one in the inhumane cancer mill. That’s no way to die.

    Also, happy birthday and keep spreading the word.

  14. Chinwe

    Take heart Chris. May her soul rest in Peace. Happy birthday to you and thanks for all your great articles and personal experiences you keep sharing with us.

  15. Juliann French

    What dissapoints me, are the Dr.’s teams who recommend “Ensure”, and drinks like this full of sugar (when going through chemo & radiation) along with recommendations that patients needs to consume as many “calories” as possible, to retain healthy weight. Hmm….??? Ever thought about requiring instead, dense phyto-nutrients and non-GMO super-foods, adding in Master Amino Acid Pattern (MAP) to help retain muscle strength while enduring any treatment? This instead, builds healthy blood cells, and helps cleanse the body of toxins… and more of course.

  16. Scott

    Happy Birthday Chris! :) Huge fan! Is coconut water too sugary or is it a “different kind” of sugar?

  17. Tai

    happy birthday fella and condolences for your loss!

  18. Rosetta Turco


    1. Ann

      My father had very good health and good health habits like regular exercise. His diet was good with the odd exception of drinking lots of Pepsi. He did get cancer and died rather quickly. He had great trouble eating at all, so out of desperation the hospital was giving him sweets. I suppose he was addicted to the cola drink. Another relative died young of cancer after developing a similar cola addiction.

  19. Amidala

    Chris you are such an inspiration. I mention your website to everyone I can struggling with a diagnosis of cancer. I mainly communicate with ladies who are told they have DCIS. I also refer them to donnas journey website and Marnie Clark. Both deal with breast cancer. I also am involved with a Cancer Awareness Club at my high school. The kids are involved in fundraising but I suspect many have relatives who have cancer or died of. I really want to help spread the word about nutrition stole and the failure of cancer research to seek preventions

  20. Jacky

    Happy Birthday Chris! What a wonderful thing to be able to say, is it not? So happy for you and your family. Sad about your loss. its very hard to understand these things–but must trust in our Sovereign Savior that this is not wasted. Psalm 16:11 ” Thou wilt show me the path of life, in Thy Presence is fulness of joy: at Thy right hand there are pleasures forever more.” He will show us the path to take for eternal life ( Jesus) and for health, and other needs. Looking unto Jesus Heb 12:2. God bless you and thanks for all the hard work you do to keep us informed.

  21. Lisa

    Happy birthday Chris! Sorry for your loss.
    Yes those sodas are SO bad. And since the 80’s they have changed the recipes to be even worse. The sugar sodas our parents drank and they knew they were bad did not contain high fructose corn syrup and 1/2 the chemicals of those today. A few years back, i tasted a coke that was made of the original recipe and it tasted quite bland compared to the newer ones. Except for that I’ve been away from soda for years. Glad to see more press on this. Shame that this junk is allowed to be sold to the public. But we all know why they allow it.

  22. Kim D

    Happy Birthday Chris! (Sorry for your loss.) Enjoy your day and thank you for all that you do.

  23. Julia Young

    Happy Birthday and thank you so much for everything that you do! Sincerest sympathy to you and your family on the transition of your loved one.

  24. Sue

    Happy Birthday Chris. I know that you cherish each year. Thank you for carrying the banner that our health is based on what we eat. It is a travesty that ANY hospital has anything but the most nutritious and healthy food possible for patients and visitors. It is people like us who are spreading the word, and one day those words will be heard by the general public.

  25. Phoebiann

    I love your site and your story. But, “If treatment kills you, they may not count you as a cancer death because technically, it wasn’t the cancer that killed you. Unbeknownst to the general public, the cancer industry exploits this technicality because it makes the treatment success rates look better.”

    I have always believed differently. I think the cancer industry calls treatment deaths cancer deaths, to protect the medical system from accountability. Though I admit that doesn’t make sense any more than the fact that the medical system receives so much money for not curing cancer, and there is no accountability whether it is the cancer or the horrid, wrong, exploitative treatment that snuffs out the life.

  26. paul koehler

    happy birthday chris sorry about your family member I will say a pray for her I had stag3 colon cancer with surgery and some chemo treatments and followed some of your diet and other information and great supplements thank you Paul


  27. dianebrodeen

    As a retired RN, I’ve made my decision re: mammograms, chemo & radiation. More of my hospice and palliative care patients suffered and died from medical treatment than from cancer. Happy Birthday and God bless you and the work you are doing to educate others. Sorry to hear of the loss of your family member.

    1. Chris Wark

      Thank you for confirming this Diane.

  28. Paula Henderson

    Awe snap…..I am a fatty and I am older…..that’s it… more sugar! Thanks Chris….for shaking my weak resistance back into reality!!

    1. Chris Wark

      Any time!

  29. Paula Daniels Roberts

    Happy Birthday! Sorry for your loss, and thank you for sharing this artical and link to the study.

  30. Joyce Fields

    Hi, Chris! This post is filled with mixed emotions. First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Second, I’m very sorry for the loss of your family member! As far as sugary drinks are concerned, does this include raw, organic sugar as well?

    1. Chris Wark

      Hi Joyce, they didn’t specify on raw organic sugar.

  31. Dan

    Thanks for info. I will be praying for you God bless.

  32. Sandra

    Chris, I feel like saying apologies for your loss. Less than a month after the death of a family member who called considering alternative treatments a month before he died. He was so sick and emaciated from chemo and radiation. He went from the hospital to hospice so quickly that it now appears help was too little too late. Hold on to the good memories…. I just watched a segment on how hard it is to “cure your sweet tooth” on the Rachel Ray show on the OWN channel (It airs again Mon. 6/23/14 2:00 AM on Comcast). That show, your info, my experience and knowledge clearly draw the line in the sand. Sugar is a dangerous additive substance that we must get off of as well as the foods (and non-foods) that turn into sugar to not present our bodies as a living food supply for cancer! In America this becomes an important part of the real battle against cancer. Let us fight on for our personal health and continue to offer a word to the wise.

  33. Barbara Villegas

    Happy Healthy Birthday Chris and I am truly sorry for your loss! You are in my prayers and thank you for being my inspiration!

  34. Tina

    Happy Birthday! I am so thankful for you Chris. May the Lord bless you.

  35. Michelle

    Oh Chris, so sorry about your loss and the suffering.

  36. Karren

    Chris have you ever did any research on lymphovascular invasion. I was diagnosed with T3NOMX last June. I too did surgery and told 3 doctors no to chemo. My doctor took out over 30 lymph nodes but pathologist said they were two little to even say they were lymph nodes. My question is there anything special I should do because of the lymphovascular invasion?

  37. Gilda

    Happy Birthday Chris, sorry for your loss, thank you so much for sharing so valuable information.

  38. krisw

    Sincere condolences, Chris. Lots of love to you and many many thanks for your work in the world–Kris

  39. Jeanne Newberry

    First, I am very sorry to hear of your friend. What a loss of life!!

    I have first hand experience with seeing how the cancer community push sugary sweet ‘treats’ to their cancer patients. When my father was having radiation, there was a huge tray of Little Debbie’s that they were encouraged to take and to take more for home! Their excuse was that radiation can make your taste buds ‘metalic’ so nothing like a big jolt of sugar to satisfy your hunger. Grrrr is all I have to say. So, did my father die of cancer? No. His death certificate says, “Failure to thrive”. The understatement of the universe.

    1. Chris Wark

      Wow. Thank you for sharing that Jeanne.

  40. T.J.

    The issue with this study is that it extrapolates causation from correlation. Obviously you can never have a blinded scientific study for something like this, but there are likely other factors in the control groups contributing to poor physical health. I’d guess it is likely, though, that overall poor nutrition contributed to the increased number; the message shouldn’t be just that sugary drink intake increases the likelyhood of cancer risk, but that it is one factor associated with increased cancer risk. Here’s hoping doctors don’t pick at the details of correlation vs causation and wise up to nutritional factors in health care overall.

  41. Lindazkewl

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s so sad to hear about your family member. Also, thank you for the reminder of how precious life is and to not waste time; especially in things that are meaningless in the big scheme of things.

  42. Charlotte

    Happy blessed birthday Chris with many more to come!! Thank you for the information on the study and my sympathy to you and your family.

  43. David

    I can relate to other comments here in many ways.


    (1) My father was hospitalised and found to have stage IV lung cancer. Although the existence of cancer was long suspected by observant family members, it was sadly only officially verified at a late stage. Cancer cells were determined to have spread to other locations.

    (2) My dad received two quick interventions which made some very real improvements to his condition in the short-term.

    The first intervention was physical removal of “gunk” from a lung, and a reasonably substantial “mucus plug” from one of the bronchial tubes during a broncoscopy.

    The second intervention was a block of five high-dose emergency radiotherapy sessions when he was found to be in a very serious predicament in hospital. I have no problems with this, as I believe it saved his life in the short term. (The main lung cancer site had began to “pouch”/push into main bronchus/airway and obstruct it. He had lost the use of one lung completely due to it filling with gunk and receiving no airflow, which led to it collapsing. This put a lot of stress on his other systems.) Stenting was off the table in his particular case.

    The results of the radiotherapy intervention were very impressive. Cancer cell growth was almost certainly regressed at the site targeted. The obstruction to the airway was diminished to nothing / practically nothing, and he regained use of the collapsed lung (it “filled-up” / expanded again). In my opinion, this was a very impressive application of radiotherapy, allowing life extension and significantly increased quality of life in the immediate term, as opposed to death (which I think was very much on the cards at the time). I give a lot of credit to the expertise and precision of the medical professionals who made this intervention.

    (3) In hospital and upon discharge, I and my mother seized the initiative, and complimented the medical treatment with the best nutrition we could achieve on our side. There was a big emphasis on good quality fats, protein, vegetables, some fruits/berries and some selected supplements. I believe this was a good follow-up plan. He looked surprisingly healthy following this. Doctors were surprised at his progress.

    **Current Status:**

    My father has follow-up meetings with his clinical oncologist at a frequency of once per month. During the most recent meeting, he was told to bulk-up by any means possible, in preparation for mooted chemotherapy. The advice included eating “anything he likes”, “all the stuff you are told is normally bad for you” and “lots of sugar”.

    Disappointingly (at least, to me), after having been presented with a useful window of opportunity, my mother and father have both fully embraced this “high sugar”; “eat anything you like” approach to nutrition. I’m very disappointed about this because I subscribe to the notion that there is indeed a link between cancer cells having an abundant supply of glucose, and the proliferation of cancer cells.

    By extension, I feel there is a link between denying cancer cells abundant glucose supplies and having those cancer cells diminish. I would have been more than happy to assist my father in building-up his body via a high-fat/high-protein/high nutritious vegetable approach (either as a “ketogenic diet”, a so-called “paleo diet”, or a diet that simply shares many of the principles of those diets). That offer stood whether he was going to proceed with chemotherapy or not (which would be his decision either way). Sadly, both he and my mother have fought me every step of the way on that offer and my attempts to nudge them in that direction.

    So, I have stated my concerns and left it at that. I simply help-out with practical matters and no longer raise the issue. It is very disappointing, but I have to accept their decisions.

    1. Him

      You did your bit and planted the seed.

  44. mnyama

    Had a friend with colon cancer. I kept telling him about you and the need to start juicing. He listened to the doctors who wanted him to continue his regular eating habits so as to keep his weight up. He said juicing was too expensive and cumbersome…. he died… even with all the treatments and never once tried juicing.

  45. James

    What I found interesting during my fathers cancer was that prior to a scan he would be given a solution to drink. Questions about the drink, lead us to find that the drink was a sugar solution that was used to ensure that the cancer was active and better able to be picked up and mapped during the scan. So here we have the medical profession going further then acknowledging that sugar affects cancer but actually prescribing it to activate it for the purpose of proper identification; mention diet and nutrition and the walls of disdain often cascaded down. In relation to cancer I found it interesting how cancer fermentation can only occur within an acidic environment so creating one alkaline one appears to be important aspect. When considering that soda or fizzy drinks are acidic in composition we have to not only consider are we looking at a purely sugar issue, or a more widening issue, given that acidity appears to be the graver issue. Hope everyone is well

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